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2005-04-11 15:14:20

Remarkable Success For Abaco Tourism

Tourism officials are touting the success of a Family Island destination that is fast developing into a leading tourist centre in the country.

According to recently released data from the Ministry of Tourism, the Abaco islands achieved an almost 18 percent increase in visitor nights in 2004 in spite of the challenges associated with hurricanes Frances and Jeanne last September.

By comparison, Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama recorded 11.7 percent and one percent growth, respectively, in visitor nights.

“The Abacos is working hard to distinguish itself as a destination with its own appeal and visitors to the islands are taking notice,' a Ministry news release boasted.

Officials with the Ministry of Tourism pointed out that in addition to observing the significant increase in the number of visitor nights in Abaco last year, they also noted a tendency among visitors to that island to choose alternative living arrangements.

Data produced by the Planning and Research Department in the Ministry indicates that 63 per cent more visitors chose to stay in vacation homes last year while stopover boat visits grew by 17 per cent.

Noting other positive indicators for the Abaco tourism sector, Gary Young, Director of Statistics in the Ministry of Tourism, said the international, regional and local tourism industries are showing an upward trend.

He further pointed out that the number of stopover visitors that travelled to Abaco in 2004 was five per cent higher than the figures recorded in destinations like Anguilla, Bonaire and Dominica.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, officials in Abaco have already begun the process of developing plans to secure the future success of that island's tourism industry.

“To realise their goal, the Abaco community has gone to the extent of holding a two-day retreat last year during which a ten-year business plan was devised,' the Ministry statement noted.

“And to make sure the islands keep on track, nine task forces were created addressing every conceivable area related to tourism from training and education to eco-tourism and the environment.'

The Ministry of Tourism expressed confidence that the initiatives will positively impact the experience of persons travelling to the Abacos, pointing out that exit surveys indicated that the satisfaction rating of visitors to the group of islands was above the national average.

“Of all the islands in The Bahamas, Abaco attained the highest intent to recommend - 85 percent of visitors surveyed indicated they were very likely to recommend the Abacos to family and friends,' the statement indicated.

It continued, “Although inevitably there are some dissatisfied visitors, the dissatisfaction rate for the Abacos was extremely low. At 0.8 per cent, Abaco's dissatisfaction rate is significantly lower than the three per cent recorded for the overall Bahamas and the four per cent recorded for Grand Bahama.'

Darrin Culmer, The Bahama Journal

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